Time and History in the Medieval World (c. 800-1300)

‘Quid est ergo tempus? Si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio.’
What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.

Augustine, Confessions, Book XI

The question ‘what is time?’ is an old one and many have sought to answer it. Time is a fundamental element of human existence. Culture, religion, society are all shaped by a society’s ideas of time, and thus these ideas profoundly shaped the medieval world view. Time is also at the heart of the perception of History. To experience time was to remember the past and anticipate the future. Both of these are key to conceptualising history.

The third Aberystwyth Medieval Conference for postgraduates will seek to explore the integral relationship between history and time, how those who wrote about the past engaged with time, and conversely how history influenced how time was conceived. More information will follow soon. In the mean time, why not sign up to this website to receive notifications and follow the 2019 organiser Caitlin Naylor on Twitter.